Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Shh! Don't tell.
It's not really for me to comment on the enormous headlines that announce the Wikileaks revelations to the world at large, but they do trouble me. Not because they uncover state and diplomatic secrets, for they do not. Neither do they truly compromise the world of diplomacy, international relationships and even espionage - for the contents of the released cables are already fully known to any government with even a half-successful intelligence service. More worrying than the release of these relatively low classification cables is the knowledge that the serious troublemakers in the global arena, Iran, the Taliban and the Al Qaeda-styled terrorist groups have intelligence gathering that can match most western agencies. How they must be laughing when we worry that Angela Merkel is seemingly made of political teflon or that the Duke of York made an off the cuff comment about press involvement in an important international deal between allies. This is the real world, for God's sake, and we have far greater things to worry about.
What much of these released cables point to is that the poignant truth that the political world, whether or not it involves the military, diplomatic discussions and comments, or even spying, is a gray and complicated place. And it is within this difficult and complex nexus that friendly and unfriendly governments meet. Sometimes they do business, sometimes they do not. But the very existence of their activity, even under the restraints of mutual suspicion, keeps the peace.
What does the obviously egotistical network of the Australian Julian Assange actually achieve? Well it temporarily boosts the sales of newspapers. It gives broadcast media a field-day in the absence of concrete new events. It also fuels the blogosphere, of which (I confess) this column is a segment.
Sir Malcom Rifkind, a member of the British Parliament, a former Foreign Secretary, a deeply Jewish intellectual, filled with common sense, and a man to whom I once had the honour of passing the port (quite a few times!) at a mess dinner, made a piercing comment in today's UK press, when he said,"There is a difference between “the public interest” and “the public are interested.” And he is so right. Assange and his secretive, almost self-righteous campaign panders to the latter. The former must be remain in the hands of those who know the importance of "balance and peace."
Posted by Tim Lewis at 8:04 PM